Archives for posts with tag: brave

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If I’m being honest I haven’t been in the shed properly for a while. Sciatica is a loud condition and my mind hasn’t really been able to rest enough to paint with integrity. But I started these three pieces. I was surprised to select red as the base for these paintings… I think they’ll end up being white but the red underneath seemed important.

I remember naively thinking I would do a series of paintings while I was giving birth 12 years ago. I even got the canvases ready and primed. But then pre-eclampsia took over and that was foiled. But I remember being mindful of the colour of pain and my conclusion is the same today as it was then. It is white. Blinding white. Computer screen brightness white. White so stark it makes your head pound and your eyes close tight and your whole body curl tight, which is exactly the opposite to the response encouraged response to pain which is to relax and embrace and breathe through it.

Last night was a bad night. In my wisdom I decided to come off the stronger pain killers, which in short was a mistake. I have never known anything like it. No position was pain free. Nausea and dizziness contributed their fine qualities and without the care and compassion of my children and husband I think I would have wept all night. Needless to say the stronger pain killers are welcomed back with open arms….. I cannot allow my kids to see me like that. But the whole thing gets you thinking.

I recently watched the film ‘Cake’ starring Jennifer Aniston, and her depiction of a woman in chronic pain was just so moving. The journey of choosing to live, of wanting to try, to get better was portrayed so brilliantly. It’s not dislike the film ‘Girl interrupted’ which I watched years ago. A similar journey. I have also recently met up with an incredibly courageous woman who has gone through so many operations and pain over the last eight years it’s unspeakable. And yet she is still standing, still loving her boy, still fighting with everything she has to live.  That is courage standing right there.

Don’t you find that it’s only when you lose something you appreciate it fully? Putting on your socks, sitting down for a whole meal, thinking clearly, little things. Our bodies are just so incredible, just so intricate. But it is when they don’t work that all these things we take for granted are realised. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We ARE fearfully and wonderfully made. And that is what these pieces are about.

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I’ve used sewing patterns over the top of the text to refer to this but, again with most of my paintings, by the time we get to the finished piece these may not even be visible, but the fact that they are here now is important to me. We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

It’s been a strange few weeks. It started with lower back pain, nothing really of substance, just a numb dull pain that wouldn’t shift. So I did what I assume everyone else does in these situations and ignored it! By the Thursday the pain was becoming a little troublesome and had started travelling down my leg, so time for a quick trip to the doctors, who were amazing and squeezed me in. An hour or so later and I was Googling ‘sciatica’ to see what was in store. I’d been offered pain killers but hadn’t accepted them as, to be honest it wasn’t hurting that much, but by that evening, my goodness me. My threshold for pain seems to be severely lacking and I was very glad to order some relief through the doctors.

It’s a peculiar thing not to be able to sit down. I can lie flat and still, and that is most comfortable, but moving again afterwards is just excruciating for a good 15-20 minutes until I think I just adapt to the pain and work through it. Once moving, moving is good and constant moving really helps. The danger, I’ve found, is overdoing it in that blissful hour when the medication has kicked in and you feel like you can pull out and hoover behind the sofa, under tables and maybe even consider some gardening. But boy do you feel it later.

In theory the whole thing is mind over matter. It’s a nerve telling you that you are in pain. There actually isn’t anything wrong apart from the trapped nerve sending messages. I remember being told before giving birth to breathe through the pain, to embrace the pain. I think if that person had been in the room when I was giving birth to my girl, not only would she have told in no uncertain terms that her suggestion was boloney but she might have been out cold on the floor! Saying that I have a choice: I can rest in bed and withdraw, wallow a little in self pity and hope that the pain will eventually subside; or I could just keep going, just keep moving and see what I can achieve in my current state. Disappointingly, ironing seems something I can do, as is cooking and cricket (to a very poor level!) I have very much enjoyed watching ‘Miss Potter’ with my girl who I believe could very well be an author one day. I can listen to my friend and provide a hug of encouragement. I can struggle with a maths problem with my boy, offering no help really at all but affirming him that he will get there in the end. I can listen and believe my man as he affirms me with kindness and love.

I think I’ve not only realised my threshold for pain is more than I originally thought but my capacity to help or to be useful through the little, seemingly insignificant things I can do means more to others and holds more value than I thought possible.

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One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how hard it is to leave my art work in a gallery or in its new home, especially if the pieces represent a personal journey of sorts. I dropped off the five completed pieces at the Emporium, Lichfield on Thursday and it once again took me by surprise, to the point that I had to explain why I was just looking at them and not moving or talking. The five pieces that are currently at Emporium I’ve called ‘tolmàō’.

Greek: tolmáō (from tolma, “bold courage”) – properly, to show daring courage necessary for a valid risk (“putting it all on the line”); courageously venture forward by putting fear behind and embracing the fruit that lies ahead for taking a necessary risk.

IMG_5784I said this on Facebook – I love that there exists a Greek word that needs nineteen English words to explain it!! But it exactly sums up what’s I was trying to say. Have courage. Go for those dreams. Step out from that comfort zone. You are brave. You are enough.

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The last few days have been really beautiful. As a family we have spent a lot of time together and it shows. All of a sudden we are listening more and understanding more, kinder even. Yesterday the kids and I copied an idea from a New Wine artist, making a cross from barbed wire. Fitted with gloves and armed with paint brushes I was not only humbled by their concentration and focus but also by their conversation. Both of them know Jesus and love Him. Their matter of fact statements, their faith unfaltering, speaks deeply to me. They trust. They have faith in Him.

I am currently rereading ‘A Beautiful Mess’ by Danielle Strickland and in it she makes this observation….. “The trapeze artists are really only free to take the risks they take if they know the catcher is reliable enough to catch them. It’s the trust in the catcher that enables them to be truly free.” This has resonated with me as it links perfectly with the work I’m doing about stepping out, stepping into. And it has occurred to me today, and it is so blindingly obvious, that the more time you spend with someone, the more you know them and the more you know if you can trust them. Blindingly obvious. It’s the same with so many things: family, marriage, church, friends, Jesus. I’ve been challenged today to look at what I invest my time in. In a moment of solitude on this beautiful day I am once again throwing myself into the arms of the Catcher and listening to His reassuring voice as He nudges me in the right direction.

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Just got back from the wonderful emporium gallery in Lichfield (http://www.emporium-gallery.co.uk) after dropping off these three pieces. It was a bit of a wrench, I suppose because they are so close to my heart. It’s funny how some paintings do that to me; it’s like I’m leaving part of myself there, which I suppose I am really. I want to know where they’ll end up, that they’ll be looked after and achieve what I pray they will. Even sitting in the gallery my hope is that they will affirm and encourage. They have to me.

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They’re about taking that first step; stepping into life, and although sometimes it feels like stepping off a cliff, once the step is made we can soar.

The stitching is like a ladder vertically through the canvas, and for me ladders symbolise journeys whether psychological or physical. The stitching also naturally splits the canvas and this gave me the opportunity to make one side dark and womb like, the other more like sky. I think when the act of stepping out occurs it can initially be like stepping into nothing, into wide open space. Darkness ironically seems more supportive and solid… maybe therein lies the problem. The texture in the background is built up through painted words, words that are about courage and being brave, making that first step. These words are then scratched into the surface of the paint, transferred and written on. I used pencil for I feel the moment is not indelible but could disappear if not taken or seized. The top and sides of the paintings are brushed red. This is a reference to the last of the ten plagues in Exodus before the Israelites are freed from their captivity. The Israelites painted their door frames with lamb’s blood. “When I see the blood I will pass over you” and the plague did not touch them but instead paved the way to freedom.

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The thing is, the place we’re stepping from can be like a warm safe place, womb like almost in its comfort and safety but restrictive and limiting all the same – it can be all we know. We can be stuck by circumstance, through illness, through words spoken without thought. Taking that step needs encouragement, demands courage and requires self-belief, all of which may be lacking when we’ve been too comfortable or stuck. I wanted these pieces to be a daily reminder that it can be done, that change can be better, that stepping out can enable us to soar once again.

 

 

just flicked through my posts and I posted pictures of these a year ago…. I knew then they weren’t complete, even with the red on the sides. love that a year later their perfect timing has helped me where I am now 🙂